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Sentry Tournament of Champions: Preview, Props & Best Bets

January 9, 2022; Maui, Hawaii, USA; Jon Rahm acknowledges the crowd after making his putt on the 13th hole during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort - The Plantation Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour kicks off its 2023 calendar with the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which is the 10th event of the 2022-23 season.

The event begins Thursday at the Plantation Course at Kapalua on the island of Maui. The field includes 39 players who qualified by either winning a tournament during 2022 or by qualifying for last year’s Tour Championship.

Our golf experts provide a preview of the event along with key notes and their best bets this week.

SENTRY TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Location: Maui, Hawaii, Jan. 5-8
Course: Plantation Course at Kapalua (Par 73, 7,596 yards)
Purse: $15M (Winner: $2.7M)
Defending Champion: Cameron Smith
FedEx Cup leader: Seamus Power

HOW TO FOLLOW
TV: Thursday-Friday, 6-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 4-6 p.m. (NBC), 6-8 p.m. (GC)
Streaming on ESPN+: Thursday, 2:15-10 p.m.; Friday, 2:30-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 12:45-8 p.m.
Twitter: @Sentry_TOC

NOTES
–This is the first of 17 designated events with elevated purses in 2023, and the tournament of champions will award 550 Cup points for the first time. The other four tournaments with “elevated” status are The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Memorial Tournament.
–The Plantation Course was the easiest on Tour last season relative to par with a scoring average of 4.783-under.
–Will Zalatoris will make his first start since withdrawing from the BMW Championship with a herniated disc in his back.
–Smith, who won with a record score of 34-under 258 last year, will not defend his title after joining LIV Golf, while top-ranked Rory McIlroy chose to make this the one elevated tournament he will not enter in 2023.
–Thirteen players will be making their event debuts.

PROP PICK
Jordan Spieth to beat Matt Fitzpatrick (+105 at DraftKings): Spieth had a relatively quiet end to 2022, posting no top-10s among his final five starts and only two after winning the RBC Heritage in April. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick posted a T5 at the DP World Championship to cap a year that included his first major triumph at the U.S. Open.

The key to our Spieth pick here is that he’s a veteran of this event. While it was the easiest on tour last season, it is a sprawling venue that Fitzpatrick will be competing at for the first time.

BEST BETS
–Jon Rahm (+650 at BetMGM) tied the record for the most birdies in a 72-hole event with 32 in finishing a stroke behind Smith last year. He has seven top-10s in his past eight worldwide starts, including consecutive wins on the DP World Tour. Rahm opened at +600 and has been backed by 6.1 percent of the bets and 4.8 percent of the money.
–Scottie Scheffler (+900) is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and is coming off a runner-up at the Hero World Challenge. His odds have also shortened slightly. After opening at +1000, Scheffler has drawn 7.8 and 8.1 percent of the action, respectively.
–Patrick Cantlay (+1000) has a win and a pair of runner-ups among his past five starts but has teed it up just once in a stroke-play event since the Tour Championship. He has drawn modest support with just 2.2 percent of the money backing him to win.
–Justin Thomas (+1100) is a two-time event winner (2017, ’20) and recorded a 61 in the third round last year along with Rahm. Only Jack Nicklaus (5), Stuart Appleby (3) and Tom Watson (3) have won the event three times. That’s why Thomas is BetMGM’s biggest liability this week as he leads the field at the sportsbook in both total bets (15.7 percent) and money backing him (18.1 percent)
–Xander Schauffele (+1100) has since his odds dip since opening at +1200. He has been supported by 8.9 and 13.7 percent of the action, respectively, making him the sportsbook’s third biggest liability this week.
–Tony Finau (+1400) has three wins among six top-10s in his past eight events. That has translated to modest support with 5.2 percent of the bets and 3.5 percent of the money.
–Sungjae Im (+1800) is a grizzled tour veteran at the young age of 24. He’s also the second biggest liability this week, having been backed by 10.9 percent of the bets and 13.9 percent of the money since opening at +2200.
–Tom Kim (+2500) is the youngest player in the field by more than four years as he makes his debut. The 20-year-old is also the first player since Tiger Woods to win twice on tour before turning 21.

–Field Level Media